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Report No. 20

2. Legislation in England.-

The hire-purchase agreement represents a fairly modem phase in the development of commerce. In England when the Sale of Goods Act, 1893, was enacted, it had not acquired such importance as to call for special legislation, though it was fairly well-known in the world of business. But subsequent thereto, as a result, it is stated, of large-scale production of goods and competition among the manufacturers to find a market for them, there had been an enormous expansion of business on the hire-purchase system, and attendant thereon, there appeared certain evils, which are brought out in great detail in the proceedings in Parliament relating to the enactment of the Hire-Purchase Act, 1988 (1 and 2 Geo. 6, c. 53) known as Miss Wilkinson's Act.

Thus, a hirer who wanted to terminate the agreement, could do so only on payment of a minimum amount, which in many cases was penal and exorbitant. The hire-purchase agreements conferred on the owner power to seize the goods, when default occurred in the payment of any instalment, and this power was often exercised, even after substantial payments had been made by the hirer, with the result that the latter forfeited all the payments made and lost the goods as well.

It also appeared that not seldom persons entered into successive hire-purchase agreements with reference to different goods and the later agreements provided that for the amounts payable thereunder, the goods covered by the earlier agreements were also liable, and, as a result of this linking up, those goods were also seized when there was any default in payment of any of the instalments due under the other agreements, even though all the hire payable in respect of those goods had been paid. Miss Wilkinson's Act was enacted with a view to removing those and other defects. The provisions of this Act were supplemented by the Hire-Purchase Act, 1954 (2 and 3 Eliz. 2, c. 51).

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